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26 February 2016

Squash Croquettes

Potato croquettes are undoubtedly great bites that the whole family can enjoy together but there is only one thing that stops me from making them at home. They are fried. When they are dipped in that boiling hot oil and come out golden brown, crispy outside and soft inside, they are so irresistible - right? I'm with you there too. I always go for yummy food even if I know that they are not 100% healthy because we cannot possibly be straight with our eating habits all the time. Fried potatoes here and there sometimes are absolutely ok with me but when it's time to eat seriously and head for healthier options, I go for baked food especially when there are two growing kids involved.

24 February 2016

Steamed Pork Buns (Siopao)

Bao, bau, baozi, pao, pau, humbow, salapao - they are strange words, aren't they? They are the different aliases of the steamed pork bun that I grew up calling siopao. Since the Philippine cuisine has big influences from Chinese, Malay and Spanish cuisines, this pork bun arrived to the country when the Chinese arrived. It is one of the important dishes that had been permanently embedded to the Filipino food culture. It's comfort food that found another home in the country. 

21 February 2016

Cheesy Cauliflower Rice with Bacon

For quite some time, cauliflower rice had been invading the foodie world for its alternative to rice with lower carbs. I finally made my mind to go for it too especially when I found the orange and purple versions at the supermarket. Side by side, the whites, oranges and purples make an outstanding sight. I have a huge weakness for unique natural colors of fruits and vegetables so it was imperative that I bought all three. There is no difference in flavors but the nutrients that you get from them compared to the whites are slightly different.

The purple variety contains antioxidant anthocyanin, the flavonoid present in fruits and vegetables with the same hues like blueberries, bilberries, red currants, black rice, red cabbages, concord grapes, etc. The orange variety instead is rich in beta carotene which makes it richer in vitamin A by 25% compared to its white cousin. The white variety doesn't lack in nutrients as well because it is very rich in vitamin C and a good amount of vitamin K, folate and a whole load of other nutritious things.

19 February 2016

Charred Smoky Eggplant Salad with Feta, Lemon and Herbs

Charred until the skin is ugly and blackish. That's what you should do to these eggplants. I had been dubious about it ever since I was a kid when I would enjoy the only eggplants dish you would see me eating. I love the smoky taste to it without any bitterness that you would think you would get with the blackened skin. As you peel it off, you arrive to the rich taste of the pulp with such an incredible flavor. It's a perfect partner for grilled fish. In the Philippines, the only way to make this salad is with vinegar, fresh tomatoes and onions. Now that the childhood quirks to food limitations have finally ceased and opened up to a whole wide world of food, I am enjoying eggplants more. Parmigiana? Now that's another eggplant love.

Les Garrigues: Venturing into an Unexplored Gastronomic Corner of Catalonia, Spain

Getting to know a place shouldn't limit us to seeing what is in front of us. It also entails the usage of our senses of smell and taste to get a profound cognizance of why we are in that spot in the first place. When we taste the local gastronomy, it is something that is particularly unique from that place because whatever grows in that land took the characteristics of the soil, climate and other exponents that contribute to its growth. Les Garrigues is an arid land with Mediterranean climate and what grows in their land makes it specially and uniquely theirs. With a little tour of the place, get to know why this hidden gastronomic gem is a place to see, smell and taste. 

15 February 2016

Sintica Winery: Wineries of Bulgaria (7 of 7)

Sintica Winery was started in 2007 by 3 individuals who envisioned a great development of the wine industry in the town of Sandanski. It replaced the defunct Complex Experimental Station that was established in the mid-20th century. Having the Experimental Agricultural Center, it carried a botanical importance in having rare and exotic plants in the premises. Moreover, it became known for its creation of unique grape hybrids like the Early Melnik (Melnik 55), Melnishki Rubin, Melnik Jubilee 1300, Melnik 82, Sandanski Misket and others. During its glory years, it won a lot of national and international awards for its wines created in its Experimental Wine Cellar but with the effect of post-communism in the country, it stopped functioning.

11 February 2016

Dark Chocolate Rice Pudding with Candied Orange Peel

I know what my son will get a bar of Intense dark chocolate and orange when we enter the Lindt chocolate shop because it's the same thing that I would also get for myself. It's nice to share the same love of flavors with him. Or maybe not because as soon as I turn my back, the bar immediately disappears in his mouth. We like flavors that don't shy away from our taste buds. The strength of both dark chocolate and orange make a very interesting combination. Intense, really, that's the best word I can describe it.

07 February 2016

Pan di Spagna con Crema Pasticcera (Italian Sponge Cake with Pastry Cream)

It's hard to say you're Italian when you don't look Italian. I guess it's the same when you get questioning looks because you look like you just stepped off Scandinavia when you proclaim that you are Asian. But I am used to it. I know that pause perfectly well when I say that I am from Italy. I take it as my cue to explain why I am Italian when I look like I just landed from Asia. I have been here for 17 years (God, has it been that long?), took my oath of allegiance to the Italian flag long before my kids were born and well, started my new roots here. New roots, new country, new life. That was half a lifetime ago. Depending on my mood, I see it as a plus or a minus as to how I should approach myself. My husband reminds me that having two cultures inside me gives me a wider stance on different aspects of life.

04 February 2016

One-Pot Chickpea, Chorizo and Bean Soup

There were times when I could spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking elaborate meals but it's becoming past tense. I don't have that luxury of dawdling over a single dish anymore. Instead, I approach the kitchen like a flash most of the time. I have two growing kids and I cannot permit myself to do that all the time. My solution is to go for quicker and simpler dishes that don't sacrifice in nutrients nor flavors because if I make something healthy that doesn't attract them, my effort will just go down the drain. So I spend time concocting one-pot meals. The kind of dish that just needs to be put together in one pot at the beginning, maybe a little bit of sautèing to take out the flavors of the ingredients then left alone to cook without so much attention. Just like how slow cookers would cook, only faster and tastier because in regular pots, the liquids can evaporate and the flavors intensify as the ingredients combine with each other with the heat.

02 February 2016

Rum Cocktail with Spiced Panela Dark Sugar Syrup

For the past couple of days, Rome has been sunny and almost spring-like. Almost. At least when the sun is at its peak in the middle of the day before the temperature drops again late in the afternoon. I actually see some white wild daisies coming out in the garden and I think nature is as confused as I am because it is way too early for them to be out. But that's how it goes nowadays - erratic weather patterns, climate changes and strange temperatures. For now that it is strangely warm, I will use my imagination through a cocktail I love with all the delicious tropical flavors. With one sip, I can be easily transport me to a faraway island where blue waters sparkle, coconut trees swaying with the sea breeze and white sand covering my toes.

01 February 2016

Skillet Potatoes, Chorizo and Garlic Croutons

I can have this all the time. Browned potato wedges that are crispy outside and tender inside, toasted garlic croutons, eggs and sautèed chorizo giving off its spectacular paprika flavor to the whole skillet. Dang! I wish I can have it again. And again. Saying that I love chorizo is an understatement because I am crazy about it. When I went to Spain a couple of weeks ago, guess what I had in my luggage? I brought home enough chorizo to supply me well for a long time.

Orbelia Winery: Wineries of Bulgaria (6 of 7)

Most of the time, a name has a meaning or story attached to it and it is interesting to know how it came about. Orbelia, meaning beautiful White Mountain, has a lyrical side to it, for the young winery rests at the foot of the Belasitsa Mountain with the snow peaks showing its beauty to anyone gazing from under and to boot, there were clumps of crocuses growing in the area when we arrived. The vines growing in perfectly-lined rows with the mountain range surrounding them is picture perfect.